The REALLY SCARY WAY To Sharpen Blades

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Established Member
27 Jul 2003
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Nottingham, England
Hi all

I picked this posting up at another site, now this is really scary: -

"First of all, if you are of a nervous disposition, or are a time served chippy, or you respect your tools far more than your time, stop reading now!

Good, got rid of that lot. I am one of the ones who made their own oilstone box and would while away the hours doing figure of eights etc, etc. Then along came those bloody great rotating wetstone things which for a mere £250 or so, could save a bit of time. Then came those Diamond plate type things which "never wear out". Ha Ha, yes, I fell for that one too.

Right! try this: Get a Cheap as chips belt sander, it doesn't matter how cheap so long as it has a locking on button to keep it running when you release the trigger. Next, take a fairly fine belt and use it to grind your outside wall or the path or something to take most of the newness off the grit. you can even add candle wax as it revolves, don't overdo it though, you do need some abrasion left at the end. Now turn it upside down. If you are squeamish or scare easily, put it in a vice, but its not really necessary. I've been doing this for 5 years, and so far have only lost eight fingers. (joke).

Set the belt running and now look for the sweet spot on the belt. This will be between the front roller and the beginning of the flat plate. Lower the wearing edge gentlyso that contact is made between the whole wearing edge and the 'sweet spot'. You only leave the chisel here applying light pressure and check frequently that it is sharpening evenly. Important. If the metal changes colour to a dark blue or similar, you have just buggerred the temper of the steel. To avoid this, you sharpen for a very short while, then lift off, and lie the chisel end across your palm, you should never leave the chisel on the belt long enough that you burn your hand. Thus you have an automatic temper tester, available all the time.

The great thing about this method, other than the blindingly sharp chisels you are left with in just a few minutes each, is that when next you hit the inevitable nail with your favourite chisel, all is by no means lost, and you will have it cutting across the whole width again in no time.

In fact, the only down side I can see of this method is that it does wear chisels quicker than before. But, they are cheap, my time is not, and every chisel I own, (about 20) is razor sharp nearly all the time.

If you don't hear from me again, it will be because Diamondtron and tormek have put a contract out on me. I am hoping that is a joke."


PS I am in no way advocating using this method.
PPS Perhaps Alf or Mike might like to comment?

Ha! You don't need a lock-on button, just some gaffer tape! Interesting way of gauging whether the temper is shot.... :shock:

I just wonder which branch of the "trade" the author is in?

Ah yes. Been there, done that; lost the fingerprints... :lol:

'Bout a year ago I ended up with a job lot of about 20 firmer chisels. Nothing special, all unloved, former school workshop deadbeats. Blunt, chipped; you name it, they suffered from it. The idea of sharpening all 20 by hand did not appeal somehow. :? But I seemed to recall seeing machines using abrasive belts actually sold for the purpose of sharpening, so I had a brainwave. I fished out the 2 or 3 better ones for a more TLC-based approach, but the rest were sacrificed on the belt of my combination sander. Don't tell anyone, but I did the backs too... :oops: It certainly worked, but it wasn't really that much quicker. Just less physical effort. You see the blades get HOT very quickly, so you end up doing a couple of seconds on the belt, resting the chisel to allow it to cool, couple more seconds etc etc. It's either that of both you and the chisel will end up losing your temper. :wink: Fine if you're doing as many as I was, 'cos you can go through them all and by the time you've finished the last one the first is cool, but for one off, regular sharpening I wouldn't honestly recommend it. More of a batch production job. And the mess is indescribable. I wasn't going to risk a spark getting in the dust ex, so it went everywhere. Goodness knows what evil I may have done to my innards :shock: So on the whole I really wouldn't give it much of a thumbs up as a method.

Cheers, Alf

Edit: I should add that I flattened the backs properly on a diamond stone before taking them through the usual honing process. I'm not that bad... :lol:
I have, and still do, use a belt sander with a fairly coarse grit (80g or so) if ever I want to regrind the primary angle on a chisel or plane iron. A cup of water by the side to dunk the iron in means you don't have to stand there waving it about to cool off when it starts to heat up.

BUT - it's a very rare thing I do - either a badly chipped edge, a 2nd hand iron with an odd primary angle, or I've honed away too much of the primary and need to start again.
Guest":35t5s7is said:
A cup of water by the side to dunk the iron in means you don't have to stand there waving it about to cool off when it starts to heat up.
I used to do that too, until I read something about it causing micro cracks in the metal. Scared the heck out of me, so I stopped doing it. Dunno if it really makes a difference, but what the heck. I never walk under ladders either... :lol:

Cheers, Alf
Well, I have thought about the problem of dousing in water - consider that dunking in oiled water is a fairly standard tempering method in blacksmithing terms. BUT, you have to have the metal bloomin hot for any of this affect to take place. Certainly hotter than you could touch. So I do it anyway :)
Newbie_Neil":3riwo3y7 said:
PS I am in no way advocating using this method.
PPS Perhaps Alf or Mike might like to comment?

I ummmmmmmmmm...... don't wanna go there..

call me Auld fashioned but I'll stick with my Ice Bears...

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